Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pacific gopher snake
Pituophis catenifer catenifer

I grabbed its tail with hopes to get it to move off the trail. There are so many mountain bikers at Fort Ord that I didn't want it to get run over. Much to my surprise, instead of slithering off, I could feel it vibrate like a couple beats of a cell phone's silent mode. Then it crouched as shown above. I'm guessing it was a young rattlesnake! I need to learn a little more about recognizing snakes. It still looks like a gopher snake to me.

ps 05/10/10 - I originally posted this under rattlesnake? Thanks to Cindy's comment below, this is confirmed to be a gopher snake (I corrected the ID above). I'll have to inform my mother-in-law. She was hiking with us that day and my pulling the tail of a baby rattlesnake has been one of her after-dinner stories. See Cindy's Dipper Ranch post for excellent rattlesnake information.


Cindy said...

I'm pretty sure that is a gopher snake. Big scales between the eyes. Also, they have this dark line that connects their eyes on top of their head and then goes straight down to the ground below their eyes - very vivid in your photo. They vibrate their tail when they are nervous, actual lots of snakes do that. I am enjoying your nature website.

Nature ID said...

Thanks so much for this information!!! I'll edit the info above. I've been using CA Herps for most of my IDs. Check out John Wall's close-up of a baby rattler with vertical pupils:

John Sullivan said...

Definitely a gopher snake. Baby rattlesnakes aren’t nearly so long in relation to their diameter, and the heads look different. As Cindy said, gopher snakes are well-known for acting all rattlesnake-like, presumably as a form of mimicry.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hi John. I hope you checked out Cindy's blog. It really helped me tell the difference between rattle snakes and gopher snakes (one or two words?). I no longer pull snake tales (pun intended).